Saturday, December 26, 2009

A-Visiting We Will Go...

Today ended up being a very full day of visiting. Before the holidays started we'd planned on meeting Dafni, Brandon, Miki, Ed, and my grandparents tonight for a little get-together while we're all in Utah. Then, yesterday we made plans with Lis and Jeremy to go up to Ogden and see their new house and hang out with them for a while. Then, last night Megan and I had to rearrange our visiting plans, so we decided that on the way up to Ogden, Mike and I would make a pit stop in Bountiful so I could spend a couple hours with my other other half.

We left around 10:30 in the morning and did said meeting of Megan, which involved Jamba Juice and admiring each other's wonderful bags made by Lindsey; then we spent three hours playing with Lis and Jeremy on their new Wii and eating yummy snacks; then we met Dafni and Brandon at Applebee's in the Gateway mall and were joined by Miki, Ed, Saba, and Bina, for some fun times and great pictures with the adorable babies; and finally, on our way home from Salt Lake, Mike talked me into going to a movie--we saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was both fabulous and unnecessarily gross at times, and also absolutely hilarious. (Side note: Was anyone else ridiculously surprised to find out that the Guatemalan doctor/pilot/comedian was Benjamin Bratt?)

It has been a very busy day and we are fully exhausted (but not too exhausted for a little pre-bedtime Facebooking and blogging, as you see). However, now it is time for bed, and hopefully a little sleeping in tomorrow morning. Boy do we need it.

In one last bit of news, it is really nice to be back in Orem. A surprising number of things have changed here (hello, In-N-Out??) but most things are just the way we remember them, and that is fun.

The end.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Stories

I am so happy right now.

My favorite of my family's Christmas traditions is that every Christmas Eve of my entire life, and for every Christmas Eve that my dad remembers in his life, our family has listened to The Littlest Angel and Lullaby of Christmas. My siblings and I always gather around the floor and the couches in the living room with blankets and pillows, and we listen with just the Christmas tree lights on.

This is the first Christmas that I haven't been at home, and I meant to bring a recording of these stories with me, but in all the madness before we left I forgot to do it. Tonight I have spent about an hour looking them up online, and I finally found a website that let me download them both for free. I am so excited, and Mike and I are going to go upstairs and listen to them now. You should check them out--Lullaby of Christmas is narrated by Gregory Peck, who of course has a fantastic voice, and The Littlest Angel is narrated by Loretta Young. Both are really sweet stories and the best part of my Christmas, hands down.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Possibly the most adorable thing ever! I have to encourage her a bit at the beginning but once she gets going you can totally tell what she's singing.

video

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hallelujah

Ahahaha! I love Megan for finding things like this. It starts out amusing and gets better as it goes.



Why is this so funny?? The world may never know.

Forest Born, by Shannon Hale

This book was a total surprise to me. I love Shannon Hale's books, but she's not one of the authors I keep up with, so I didn't even know she was writing another one after River Secrets. I will say, I love how the books of Bayern connect, but are each about a different character. They are less like sequels, and more like a series of books about people who happen to know each other, or come to know each other in the course of the story.
Anyway. Forest Born is about a girl named Rin, who is the younger sister of the boy who is the protagonist in River Secrets, and who has a relationship with trees. She can understand them, and communicate with them in a non-verbal way (a non-language way, really). I won't give away the story, except to say that not far into the book, Rin finds herself in the company of Isi (The Goose Girl), Enna (Enna Burning), and Dasha (River Secrets), who can all control fire, on their way to save the kingdom from a mysterious threat that no one can quite identify.
Parts of this book were difficult for me, and I will tell you why. Rin has a big secret, one that she hates herself for; she is a very introspective girl, and doesn't speak much to others--because of the secret--but does a lot of thinking. It is hard to read a character who thinks she's a horrible person, and the whole time I was just waiting for her to learn the things she needed to so she could understand herself better. (This will make more sense when you read the book, I promise.)
In any case, I really enjoyed reading it, but I think the other books of Bayern are better. It's still a good read, though, and a lot of fun to see the characters from the previous books come back into the story. I give it a 7.

Monday, December 14, 2009

2010 Challenge

So, like I mentioned last January, I don't really do New Year's resolutions. They are usually ridiculously unrealistic and I never keep them, in part because three weeks into the year I realize that they were silly goals I don't even care much about. So for 2009, my "goal" was to read 100 books. I questioned whether I should make my goal higher, but ended up deciding not to worry about it.


Well, I reached 100 in about September, so I'm thinking for 2010 I can probably raise the bar a bit. I was thinking about it the other day and had decided how I wanted to do it, but then today I came across a challenge that could also be a good idea for a "resolution," and so now I need help deciding which to do.


Idea number one is simple: The goal is 150 books, ten of which need to be books I already own but haven't read yet. This was the original idea.


Idea number two is this 9/9/9 challenge (which I would modify for the coming year): ten books in ten different genres in 2010. The categories include genres like historical fiction, young adult, and memoirs, and other categories like authors I've never read, award winners, etc. I think I would enjoy this one a lot, and I could make one of my categories books I own but haven't read, and that would take care of that. But the numbers for this challenge come down to only 100 books, which is what I did this year, and easily surpassed. I feel like that would be kind of lame.


So. What do you think I should do? Is there perhaps an option C? I guess I have two weeks to decide...

It's True.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Heart the Library

I have had incredible luck at the library lately.


Today I am using the internet here. While my computer was starting up, I wandered over to look at the young adult display table, because I have found some good things there and always enjoy seeing what's out. I turned around and found myself looking at the latest Georgia book, just sitting there on a shelf! I couldn't believe it. I haven't even bothered looking for this book yet, because the libraries around here just aren't that quick with new releases.


This is the same thing that happened with Fire. I wasn't planning on looking for the sequel yet, but since I stumbled across it at the library one day a couple weeks ago, I decided, why not?


This also happened with Forest Born, a new Shannon Hale book that I didn't even know was being written, but was glad to see on the shelf.


And with both The Hunger Games, several months ago, and Catching Fire, just a few weeks ago. I had that first one on hold at the Allen library (and was something like 164th on the hold list), so I wasn't expecting to see it just hanging out on the Wylie shelves.


Libraries are wonderful things, my friends. Mike and I have always loved them, and went to the ones in Provo and Orem quite frequently, but nothing like we do now. Since we moved to Texas, I am fairly sure we have spent more time at the public libraries than we have at any other place, excluding our jobs and my parents' house. Yay, yay, yay for libraries.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fire, by Kristin Cashore

Fire is the sequel to Graceling, which I read a few weeks ago, and loved. Reading this book was a very different experience from the first one, and I have complaints; however, it was still a great book, and I am glad I read it.
First of all, as I mentioned in my Graceling post, Fire does not follow the same characters you met in the first book. In fact, only one character is shared between them, and not in a pleasant way. I was very disappointed when I found out it wasn't a continuation of Katsa's story from the first book, but the protagonist in the sequel (her name is Fire) is actually not so different a character from Katsa, and that gave it some of the same kind of feeling. I do love Fire, and many of the characters she meets, and their story was worth reading. The reason the experience was different, though, is that while I enjoyed reading it, I wasn't sucked in like I was in Graceling; there is a very large portion of the book in which not much happens, and although I wasn't bored, I was thinking "okay, this could stand to be going faster."
Official Complaints: I found this book highly inappropriate for teenagers. Fire is a human monster, brightly colored and inhumanly beautiful, and most people can't control their desire for her. You can see where this leads. It's not done tackily, per se, but I get the impression that Kristin Cashore got a little carried away and let her inner trashy-romance-novelist surface a bit too long. My second complaint is that while the story was fascinating and intriguing, by the end it was feeling a bit soap opera-y with all of its unexpected twists, surprises, and revelations about previously hidden parentage. Interesting, yes, plausible even... but basically just too much.
Oh, and one more point--I hate when words or phrases are used too often in one book, and the word "gorgeous" came up disproportionately often in this one.
So this is my assessment. Great story, fantastic characters, engaging and sometimes stomach-twisting plot development; slightly over the top with passionate drama. If you read Graceling and liked it, I think you will enjoy this book--just try not to let my complaints ruin it for you. :) I give it a 7, and am heading over to Kristin Cashore's blog to see if anything else is coming soon.


Update: It is! Book three is called Bitterblue, which means it's going back to the Graceling characters. No release date yet, but still, hurray. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hitler Didn't Floss

We had an interesting experience with the police on Monday night. We were on our way home from campus at about 11:00, and we got pulled over for no reason we could see. When the cop came to the car, Mike asked why he'd been pulled over, and the guy said 1) he'd been goin 53 in a 45, 2) he didn't use his turn signal to get into the right turning lane, and 3) he waited too long to get in the turning lane.

All of this sounded vaguely made up, since cops here don't pull you over unless you're going ten over, and we didn't think he'd waited too long to get into the right turning lane. He told us that those three things combined are often a sign of drunk driving, which is why he pulled us over. However, he didn't make Mike get out of the car, or even come close enough to the window to be able to tell if he had been drinking. Which I think he would have done if he really thought Mike was drunk.

He talked to Mike for a while about needing to get a Texas license, which Mike said sure, he would do that.

Then he left, without giving us a ticket. The whole thing felt suspiciously like he had just wanted to pull us over for the sake of pulling someone over... but then, that doesn't fit with him letting us go without a ticket, because usually if a cop pulls you over for no reason it's because he's a jerk. SO. We have no idea what happened, except that we are very glad we didn't get a ticket.

Random interesting aside: the place where Mike was pulled over is exactly, within two or three feet, the same place where I got pulled over for my very first time ever, six or seven years ago. I also left that confrontation without a ticket, because the cop was very nice; AND, it was in the same car that we drive now! Coincidence? I think... well, maybe.